Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stop pandering to Muslims

This is the headline to an article written yesterday by Munira Mirza for the online political website spiked. In the article Ms Mirza points out that the latest government scheme to tackle extremism amongst young Muslims is just one more in a long list, none of which last and none of which help. Essentially, she argues that schemes to "deal" with Muslims only makes matters worse and that the political parties need to ignore them and allow the young Muslims to attach themselves to other political ideas. She concludes:

Although it seems counterintuitive, the way to ‘deal’ with young Muslims may well be to stop ‘dealing’ with them. The short-term, obsessive focus on them seems to be precisely the thing that alienates them even further. A long-term focus on politics elsewhere might at least remind them that Islamism is not the only game in town.

This argument is correct in one aspect but wrong in its conclusion. It is almost undeniable that the focus of political and public interest on Muslims only serves to make them more defensive, angry and radical. It is also, unfortunately, true that there is almost nothing that the outside British public or government can do about it. Islamic extremism can only be fought by Muslims and only when Muslims decide that they must tackle it.

However, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. For years successive British governments ignored the radicalisation of Muslims in Britain. Even after 9/11 little was done to combat it. Only after 7/7 did the government go into overdrive. Yet, despite the lack of "dealing", Muslims were still being radicalised. The situation we have now is not one that has developed in the 2 years since 7/7 nor in the 5 years since 9/11 but over a decade or more.

So, if we cannot externally stop extremism, and we cannot convince Muslims to tackle it themselves, what can we do? Well, it would seem that the only real option is a policy of containment both at home and abroad. We must continue to confront the Islamist ideology in the Middle East, be it by imposing sanctions or more on Iran; be it by supporting Israel in her defence against Hamas and Hezbollah; be it by taking the necessary military action in trouble spots across the globe.

But, we must also have a policy of containment at home. We must give the police the powers to prevent terrorism and we must ignore the protests and victimisation claims of the Muslim community. True, we must ensure that the police are not abusing their powers, but we shouldn't allow Muslim leaders to dictate what police may do and to whom they may do it.

We must also attempt to undo the damage that excessive multi-culturalism and political correctness has done to British culture. We must ensure that British values are not only upheld but instilled in the next generation. It is right that we should not try to force religion onto the public but we shouldn't be ashamed of it either. We should realise that our history contains some dark chapters but we shouldn't be ashamed of our achievements.

We must ensure that there is a strong British culture in which all Britons may take pride and to which all Britons can show loyalty.